President Mohammed Waheed Hassan said the election will be held in July 2013, the earliest permitted by the constitution, according to a statement from his office. The vote was originally scheduled for late 2013.
Hassan took over in February when his predecessor Mohamed Nasheed resigned after weeks of public protests and eroding support from the police and military. Nasheed claimed he was forced to resign at gunpoint and challenged Hassan to order early elections.
Maldives is a Muslim nation of 300,000 people known for its luxury island resorts. Nasheed, a former pro-democracy political prisoner, became the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008 following 30 years of autocratic rule.